Written by Sally Perkins
The economic crisis of ten years ago put a lot of things in perspective. One of the ways it changed retirement is by putting property assets on the same level as stocks and bonds because investors regard property as more stable. You can get properties to work harder for you in your retirement but be prepared, 43% of spending for those aged 75 years or older is on annual home-related expenses.
It can be difficult, but there is a lot of potential for return on investment if you manage your property intelligently. Whether you are a real estate mogul with several rental properties or just working with your home, there is more you can do to bolster your retirement funds.
For those with mortgages, it can be worth looking at refinancing to get a better interest rate. After so many years in the work force, those retiring or soon to retire often have much better credit scores than those they had when first mortgaging their homes.
Once your payments are down, you can use the savings to help pay off the principle. The sooner you can pay off the mortgage the sooner you can put the property to work increasing your income. To find out just how much money you can save try using a mortgage calculator.
Leaving a home that you have lived in for years can be tough, but scaling back to a smaller home has some serious advantages financial and otherwise. As we retire, our needs change and the homes we live in are no different. Maybe the kids have moved out, you don’t use the pool much anymore or your knees just don’t appreciate those stairs.
Not only can downsizing your home better meet your needs, but you’ll save a lot of money on maintenance and utility costs not to mention a reduction in property taxes. You can use the money that you save to reinvest and increase your income or just use it to prepare your new home for your new way of life.
Take Action Early
Many mortgages have strict lending requirements about work. Typical requirements include having to show that you have been employed for the last two years. You can explain away some of these requirements or find mortgages that aren’t so strict but those might be more expensive options. The easiest way to avoid that headache is to take action before you stop work if you have the opportunity.
Make Your Retirement Investments Help Each Other
Mortgage companies usually require higher down payments and interest rates for properties that the owner does not plan to occupy. Down payments can reach 30 percent of the price or more. Perhaps you don’t have the funds for a down payment of that size but you can use your IRA funds to help. Since the money in a Roth IRA has already been taxed, if you use it to buy property all of the equities and earning from it can grow tax-free.
Do the Homework
With all the extra time afforded by retirement, you can do valuable additional research. Finding out potential costs like insurance, mortgage fees, taxes and possible maintenance costs will help you make informed decisions about the viability of individual properties. As in business, income properties are about balancing expenses and revenue.
Research can also help you decide on an area or property in which to invest. Learn the local occupancy and price trends. Area real estate agents, publications and even small local banks are all excellent sources of information. You might even find that getting loans from local banks is a better route than the big banks because the smaller banks have more knowledge and interest in their area.
Gifting property equity to your children, their spouses or grandkids can be an option that helps you avoid some tax situations. It is possible to move real estate equity to your kids year by year with no tax liability. There are annual limits but with enough management and recipients you can transfer quite a bit every year and it adds up. It is best to refer to a tax professional to be certain what will work best in your situation.
While it is true that property investment can add to your retirement, it shouldn’t be the only thing working for you. Diversification of your funds into 401(k)s, IRAs and the like is still sound advice even in these uncertain economic times. Trust in real estate is high but diversification can prevent you from losing all of your income should the market fall in a particular sector.
Maximize Your Property’s Output
Retirement is a time to relax and enjoy life, but if you want to keep your income high to support your new lifestyle, a little bit of work is required. Property investment, in particular, requires some doing. Using a bit of time, effort and the advantages of being retired you can put your property to work funding your retirement.